Leo Villareal's first solo exhibition in Switzerland on view at Pace Gallery

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Leo Villareal's first solo exhibition in Switzerland on view at Pace Gallery
Installation View, Leo Villareal: Nebulae, Jan 24 – Mar 18, 2023, Pace Gallery, Geneva © Leo Villareal, Geneva, 2022. Photo: Annik Wetter, courtesy Pace Gallery.

GENEVA.- Pace Gallery is presenting Leo Villareal: Nebulae, the American artist’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland. Bringing together a suite of eight new wall-based digital sculptures, this presentation coincides with the 2023 edition of artgenève, where the artist will showcase a major installation in the main hall. Nebulae marks Pace’s sixth solo exhibition of Villareal’s work, underscoring the gallery’s commitment to championing contemporary practices that push the boundaries of art and technology.

Rooted in art historical language of abstraction, Villareal’s practice uses pixels and binary code to create complex, rhythmic compositions. Investigating the capacity of light and code as both medium and subject, Villareal’s practice is concerned with the immersive, experiential, and sensorial qualities of perception. Villareal’s major projects include his public installation The Bay Lights (2013) on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and the long-term project Illuminated River, in which nine bridges along the River Thames in London are lit up every evening. Villareal has constructed a generative sequence of subtly shifting LED lights that bring attention to the relationships between architecture and nature, responding to the natural fluctuations of the currents and sky.

Villareal’s latest body of work, titled Nebulae, brings this language of brightly coloured LED lights, electronics, and custom coding into the gallery space. These new wall-based sculptures are comprised of hypnotic, diffused light that pulsates in vibrant hues of radiant colours. Drawing simultaneously on organic, celestial imagery and the visual lexicon of custom software, Villareal’s work bridges the divide, inviting viewers to engage with the boundary that separates the physical and digital worlds.

Leo Villareal (b. 1967, Albuquerque, New Mexico) creates complex works of art with LED lights, using custom programming to constantly change their frequency, intensity, and patterning. Ranging from wall-mounted pieces and room-sized installations to public projects the scale of buildings and bridges, Villareal’s light-based works prompt reconsideration of light, space, and technology. Often inspired by natural phenomena, they evoke—but do not illustrate—elemental and atmospheric systems with emergent behavior that occurs without a predetermined outcome. Firmly rooted in abstraction, Villareal’s approach uses layered sequencing to develop his light sculptures, resulting in open-ended, immersive experiences for viewers.

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